Degree FAQs | PPA

Degree FAQs

What are the different types of PPA Degrees?

The three types of degrees are: Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman, and Master Artist (formerly known as the Master of Electronic Imaging degree). Learn more about these different degrees here.  

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What does a degree look like?

Each degree has its own medallion, which is hung on a corresponding ribbon. Master of Photography recipients are presented with a yellow ribbon, Photographic Craftsmen receive blue ribbons, and Master Artist recipients receive red ribbons. Those recipients with multiple degrees receive multi-colored ribbons signifying their respective degrees. You can see images of all the degree medallions, ribbons and other recognitions in the Ribbons & Bars Gallery. 

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What are the different types of merits?

There are four different kinds of merits: Exhibition, Artist Exhibition, Speaking and Service. Learn more about these merits and how to earn them here.  

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How many merits do I need for each degree?

You need a total of 25 merits to earn a PPA degree. Each degree requires a different combination of merits to make up that 25 requirement:

  • Master of Photography – Out of the 25 merits needed, 13 of them must be Exhibition merits (earned through competition). The remaining 12 can be a combination of any of the four merit types: Exhibition, Electronic Imaging, Speaking or Service.
  • Photographic Craftsman - Out of the 25 merits needed, 13 of them must be Speaking merits (earned by speaking, instructing or writing). The remaining 12 can be a combination of any of the four merits: Exhibition, Electronic Imaging, Speaking or Service.
  • Master Artist - Out of the 25 merits needed, 13 of them can be any combination of Artist Exhibition, Electronic Imaging or specialist merits (earned though competing with digitally altered images). The remaining 12 can be a combination of any of the four merits: Exhibition, Artist Exhibition, Speaking or Service.

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When can I start earning merits towards a degree?

A PPA member can begin earning merits for a degree immediately. PPA membership categories that qualify to earn degrees include Professional Active, Additional Active, Canadian, International, Life and Retired members.

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Once I've earned a merit or degree, do I ever lose them?

If your membership lapses, you cannot earn PPA merits towards a degree during that time. You must also be an active PPA member to have a degree conferred upon you. But once you earn a PPA degree, it is always yours.  

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When can I begin using my degree credentials?

Degree candidates cannot publicly announce that they are receiving a degree until after Council approves the list of degree candidates. (This happens during the annual Council Meeting, usually in January.)  

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Do I have to be a Certified Professional Photographer in order to earn a degree?

No! Earning a degree through PPA's Merit & Degree program and earning your CPP designation are two separate processes. You do not have to be certified to earn a degree, nor do you have to hold a degree in order to become certified. Learn more about becoming certified at  

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Can I use one merit toward more than one degree?

Merits can't overlap when applied toward a degree. Once a merit is attributed to a specific degree, it is considered applied and cannot be used toward any other degree or merit bar. In order to receive two degrees, you must earn a total of 50 or more appropriate merits. In order to receive three degrees, you must have earned a total of 75 or more appropriate merits.  

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Is there a deadline by which I have to earn enough merits for a PPA degree?

While your merits do not expire, all merits must be received and on record with PPA by October 31 in order to receive a degree at the next Award & Degree Ceremony at Imaging USA. This means that all merits being used toward a degree, including merits that need to be submitted by PPA Affiliates, must be received by PPA no later than October 31. 

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How do I know if I'm eligible to receive a degree?

You will receive notification from PPA by mail when you are eligible to receive a degree. You then have the option of accepting the degree or keeping your merits for a different, future degree. A final list of degree candidates will then be presented to PPA Council 30 days before their annual Council Meeting at Imaging USA. During that annual Council meeting, Council will approve the degree candidates.  

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When and where do I receive my degree?

If you have earned enough merits and are eligible to receive a degree, it will be conferred upon you at Imaging USA during the Award & Degree Ceremony. At that time, you will receive your degree ribbon, medallion and certificate. Remember: Until the PPA Council officially confers your degree at the annual Council meeting (before the Award & Degree Ceremony), you may not announce that you have received the degree. 

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What happens at the Award & Degree Ceremony?

Each degree candidate is called to the stage and presented with their degree ribbon and medallion by a sponsor. 

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What is a sponsor?

When you choose to receive your degree, PPA will ask that you choose a sponsor to present you with your degree on stage at the Award & Degree Ceremony during Imaging USA. Sponsors must be at least 18 years old and can be anyone who played an influential role in your degree achievement—a mentor, business partner, spouse, family member or friend.  

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What if I can't attend the Award & Degree Ceremony?

If you cannot attend the ceremony, PPA will mail your degree and medallion to you after Imaging USA. 

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After earning all my degrees, are there any other recognitions for continuing to learn, compete and serve?

Don't stop being active in Merit & Degree program...even if you've earned all your PPA degrees! You never want to stop improving your art or your industry. And PPA recognizes your efforts to go above and beyond via the following bars and awards: 

  • 25+ Gold Merit Bar – Members can earn one 25+ gold merit bar for every additional 25 merits earned beyond those required for any one degree.
  • IPC 50 Bar – The IPC 50 bar is awarded to members who earn a total of 50 exhibition/artist exhibition merits. Exhibition or Artist Exhibition merits used toward your Master of Photography or Master Artist degree are included in the total count for the IPC 50 bar.
  • Imaging Excellence Award – Awarded to members who hold a Master of Photography or Master Artist degree and who have a minimum of 13 images accepted into the PPA Loan Collection.
  • Imaging Excellence Bar – Awarded to members who already received the Imaging Excellence Award and go on to earn an additional 13 Loan Collection images for a total of 26 Loan Collection images. Members will continue to earn Imaging Excellence Bars for every additional 13 Loan Collection images awarded.

You can see images of all the degree medallions, ribbons and other recognitions in the Ribbons & Bars Gallery.

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How should my degree credentials be listed?

Holders of multiple degrees must use the following abbreviations in this order followed by any other credentials as appropriate:

1. Master of Photography – M.Photog.
2. Honorary Master of Photography – Hon.M.Photog.
3. Master Artist – M.Artist.
4. Master of Electronic Imaging – MEI.
5. Photographic Craftsman – Cr. (when listed with other degrees), or Cr.Photog. (when not listed with other degrees)
6. Honorary Photographic Craftsman – Hon.Cr.Photog.

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What other pins and bars can I wear on my degree ribbon?

A bar to be worn on the ribbons shall be awarded for each additional twenty-five (25) Merits earned beyond a degree. A silver star shall be placed midway on the right hand ribbon as the insignia of a Past President. A small “25” may be worn midway on the left hand ribbon as the insignia of members of the Twenty-Five year Club. A national Award pin or other PPA earned award may also be worn on the ribbon. No other insignia shall be worn on or attached to the ribbons. 

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